NFL Week 4 Preview: Bears at Packers
Each week, the PFF analysis team will bring you break downs of the most important matchups for each game of the NFL season.
Coverage by: Lorin Cox
Matchup: Chicago Bears offense vs. Green Bay Packers defense
- C Cody Whitehair vs. DL Kenny Clark – The Bears haven’t done Whitehair any favors as injuries forced the team to move him around the interior the past two weeks, that doesn’t excuse his 17.3 pass-blocking grade this season, the lowest of any offensive lineman in the NFL. His run blocking hasn’t been stellar either, and he’ll be tasked with handling Clark, who once again may have to take on a bigger role if Mike Daniels misses another game. Clark has earned a 70.1 overall grade this season, playing in 75.6 percent of his defense’s total snaps. That’s way up from his rookie season, when he played in just 33.3 percent of the snaps. He has five stops in the last two games, and the Packers are going to need more of that against Whitehair.
- RB Jordan Howard vs. S Josh Jones – Jones has thrived in his new role, essentially as a linebacker in the Packers’ “Nitro” package, earning the second-highest grade on the team at 84.8 overall. He racked up eight total stops last week against the Bengals, the third most of any defensive player in Week 3, and Green Bay is going to need more of that against Howard. He was the third-highest graded running back in Week 3 at 86.2 overall, and on the season, Howard has forced a missed tackle every 3.8 touches, the third-highest rate in the NFL.
- WR Markus Wheaton vs. CB Damarious Randall – Wheaton didn’t have a stellar season debut last week against his former team, but he has an opportunity to get on track against Green Bay. He was targeted only twice and dropped a third target that was nullified by a penalty, and he struggled to separate from coverage at times, earning just a 40.5 overall grade. He’ll try to get things going against Randall, who has had struggles of his own. He is the lowest-graded Packers player this season at 37.5 overall, allowing a 109.3 passer rating when targeted in coverage. He’s also missed four tackles in three games and remains the weakest link in the secondary.
Coverage by: Alejandro Chavez
Matchup: Green Bay Packers offense vs. Chicago Bears defense
- QB Aaron Rodgers vs. EDGE Willie Young and DI Akiem Hicks – Rodgers currently holds the fourth-slowest average time to throw among quarterbacks. While he has been able to throw three touchdown passes versus no interceptions when he’s been pressured this season, there has been one way the pressure has negatively affected him; completion percentage. When Rodgers has been kept clean, his adjusted completion percentage is 75.0, seventh-best in the NFL. When he’s under pressure however, that number plummets to 47.6, only 18th. While Young only ranks 51st among edge defenders in pass-rush productivity (PRP), his PRP is still 8.7. Hicks’ PRP is 8.1, and that’s good for the 22nd highest mark among interior defenders. It’ll be up to Rodgers (and his offensive line) to make sure their work doesn’t stall offensive drives.
- RB Ty Montgomery vs. LB Danny Trevathan – In 2016, albeit in limited work, Montgomery had the highest elusive rating among running backs who carried the ball more than 70 times. This season, he’s fallen to 39th, all the way from a rating of 116.4 to just 20.3. While that remains an issue that needs to be fixed, Montgomery makes up for it with his work in the passing game. Out of 41 qualified backs, he leads all of them in routes run. Trevathan will most likely be one of the primary defenders charged with stopping Montgomery. He ranks 62nd in tackle efficiency among linebackers when counting both the run and passing game, and his coverage grade is 78.3, good for rank 23 among linebackers.
- WR Jordy Nelson vs. CB Kyle Fuller – Nelson lines up all over the field, as this season he’s lined up to the left on 58 snaps, and to the right on 56 snaps, and in the slot 38 times. He ranks 53rd among wide receivers in yards per route run this season, but he ranks eighth in passer rating when targeted. While the Bears sport a pair of cornerbacks that are playing at a high level this year – Bryce Callahan and Marcus Cooper Sr. are both in the top 33 of cornerbacks in yards allowed per cover snap and in opposing quarterback rating – Fuller is another story. Fuller does rank well in opponent quarterback rating, as the 82.5 passer rating generated when throwing into his coverage this year ranks 41st, but his yards allowed per cover snap of 1.65 rank 80th. When Nelson and Fuller are matched up, the Packers should try to take advantage.